BEREA— It’s looking like Johnny Manziel's season is over.
If so, Manziel will finish the season injured as he did in his rookie year with a hamstring injury. If Manziel is out, the Browns will turn back to Austin Davis for the season finale against the Steelers this week.
The Browns announced after practice that Manziel is officially in the NFL's concussion protocol. It doesn't mean that he will miss the game Sunday, but odds are likely his season is over.
Manziel came to the facility Wednesday morning and indicated concussion-like symptoms.
“(Manziel) came in this morning complaining of concussion-like symptoms,” Pettine said. “We will obviously take every precaution with that. We sent him to see the doctors, which is our normal procedure. I know he took a pretty good shot in the game.”
Speculation is Manziel might have received the concussion as a result of a hit he received on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 10-yard scramble when he hit his helmet on the ground when hit by 288-pound defensive lineman Allen Bailey.
Davis took his turn with the media after practice as is customary for the starting quarterback.
"With the way the league's (protocol) is with symptoms, you have to assume Johnny will be out," Davis said. "I have to be prepared (to start)."
If Davis starts, it will be his second of the season. On Dec. 6, Davis was 25-of-38 for 230 yards (65.8 pct.) with a touchdown and an interception and a 71.2 rating in a 37-3 loss to the Bengals. Davis only other appearance was against the Ravens in relief of Josh McCown who was injured. Davis was 7-of-10 for 77 yards with a touchdown and a 125.8 rating and rallied the Browns to overtime before losing 33-27. Overall, Davis is 32-of-48 for 307 yards with a touchdown and an interception and a rating of 82.6.
"Anytime you get the chance to start and the results aren't good, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth," Davis said. "I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing."
Pettine said that Davis will start if Manziel doesn't.
“If (Manziel) does not go, then obviously, Austin will be the starter,” Pettine said. “Then, we are in the process now, we will know by the end of the day whether or not we would sign – we have to wait to hear the news on Johnny and then the ripple effect from that, whether we would go with (Terrelle) Pryor as the two or sign a two. All that is to be determined.”
Tim Couch is the only quarterback to start every game at quarterback for the Browns since 2001. Through 15 games in 2015, Josh McCown started eight games, Manziel six and Davis one.
Pettine was asked if he’s concerned with so much of Manziel’s game being able to run out of the pocket. Manziel rushed for a franchise record 108 yards for a quarterback last week on 11 rushes.
“I think it goes back to the point that we’ve made about that is that we don’t want it to be 10-12,” Pettine said. “Every quarterback, it’s going to be a certain number. For the guys that are mobile, you want it to be three or four because those can be some big plays in your favor. A lot of teams are producing yards and first downs and points with their quarterback’s ability to run. You don’t have to look past the team that has the best record in the league, Carolina. Every quarterback has their style, but I just think you need to minimize the number of time that it happens because when it does happen, as we see the result, its high risk, but it is also high reward.”
Pettine did say that Manziel would start if he was cleared from the concussion and not be demoted for the video that surfaced of him partying on Christmas Eve. Pettine said he hasn’t talked with Manziel about the incident after saying on Monday he hadn’t seen the video.
“I did, and I unfortunately did not get a chance to talk to him,” Pettine said. “At some point this week when he is back in the building, I will get a chance to talk to him about it. I know he was at home. He was at home on his day off.
“As far as the judgment of it getting out there, I question that,” he said. “Other than that, this is not similar to the circumstances that involved [the bye week video and response]. Going back to there, that was more trust and accountability than it was necessarily the act. I will have a conversation with him at the first time that I can.”
If Manziel’s season is over, he will finish with 129-of-223 for 1,500 yards (57.8 pct.) with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. HIs rating is 79.4 Manziel appeared in nine games, including six starts. Two of the three wins were with Manziel starting.
Pettine said that he thinks there has been a good sample size to evaluate Manziel’s play going forward.
“Yeah, I don’t know what the total game count ended up or whether you count that Jets game as a full game – he played most of it, three quarters of it,” Pettine said. “It is a good chunk. It is a lot of film to go back and evaluate.”
Barnidge, McCown Appreciative: TE Gary Barnidge was appreciative of getting the Player of the Year Award.
"I am very appreciative of it," he said. "All I care about is winning, but I'm very appreciative of it."
McCown was voted the 'Good Guy Award' winner.
"I'm very appreciative of the award."
Concussion Numbers: By unofficial count, the Browns have had 13 different players suffer a total of 15 concussions during the regular season. Currently, WR Marlon Moore, DB Tramon Williams and RB Glenn Winston are in the protocol. If Manziel is added, he would be the 14th. DB Joe Haden and WR Andrew Hawkins have already been placed on injured reserve. The Browns have lost 30 games to players with concussions.
Pettine was asked if the Browns numbers were high compared to the rest of the league.
“I don’t know where it compares to the rest of the league and where that would put us,” Pettine said. “I would assume near the top. Off the top of my head, it seems like a high number. You have to look at each one individually. You have to take that approach. If the symptoms are there, the league has a protocol that you follow, and they stay in it until they are cleared to come out of it.
“Until we get a chance in the offseason to study all of them individually – I know the number has been high here in Cleveland even going back a couple years, that was pointed out in a report not too long ago that – our training staff is already looking at those and pulling individual clips,” he said. “Hopefully, we will have better answers as to the ‘why’ as the offseason moves on.”
Walking Wounded: WR Travis Benjamin (ankle), DL Desmond Bryant (thumb), QB Johnny Manziel (concussion), WR Marlon Moore (concussion), RB Raheem Mostert (ankle), OL Joe Thomas (knee), DB K’Waun Williams (shoulder), DB Tramon Williams (concussion) and RB Glenn WInston (concussion) were listed on the injury report.
Williams indicated concussion-like symptoms on Tuesday and is in protocol after being diagnosed with a concussion.
Up at Cornerback: If Williams is unable to play, Pettine was asked who would be in line to play cornerback this week.
“(Justin) Gilbert, (Pierre) Desir, (Charles) Gaines, K’Waun (Williams) and (Johnson) Bademosi,” he said. “If Tramon more than likely can’t go. The other guy that has taken some reps there is Gip (Tashaun Gipson). He’s cross-trained as a corner. From a numbers standpoint, we feel we’re OK.”
Nice Gesture: The Browns honored long-time beat writer Mike McLain for the Warren Tribune-Chronicle for his year’s covering the team. Mike Pettine gave him a Browns jersey with number 33 on it for his 33 years covering the team.